Birthday 1982-12-17 Gender
Male Location Chicago Member Since 2006-01-30
Achievements In grad school! WAO Anime Fan Since Early '90s. Favorite Anime Musashi Gundoh. Goals A university teaching gig! Hobbies Reading Heidegger. Talents Not really.
So what exactly do you do as a 24-year-old kid with a master's half-done, philosophy books littering your floor... and a hobby of watching foreign cartoons? I still don't really know. Tell me if you find an answer.
I first came to this site to write articles on anime. That ended when the section closed down, yet I still hang out and maintain a blog (which I mostly use to post videos). My position on anime is ambiguous: on the one hand I want to take it seriously, to study these shows in the same way I might study Kant; on the other, I can't help reveling in the absurdity of anime and the culture it has produced (we are all 2channers now). I probably come across as snarky and detached - my writing academically does not help this. The only case I make for myself is that nothing I do is ironic.
I've been doing the anime thing since the early '90s - I'm from the second generation, from the days of Saturday Anime. Especially since the early oughts and the advent of fansubbing, I take anime as more than a casual hobby. At my best, I use it as a point of access to what I would call "factical questions." At my worst, I'm in it for the cute girls. Ah, life.
Smack My Heart Up
In my very small amounts of free time I've been doing more ridiculous mashup kinds of things; this is my favorite of the recent bunch. It should at least get a giggle out of the people around here who actually remember the 1990s (the joke is that I'm combining THE eroge tune with what was once taken to be the most misogynistic song of all time - read between the lines, kids).
I've had to cut my anime watching way, way back. Maybe I'll catch up when things get significantly less crazy, but I doubt it very much.
I suppose I ought to weigh in on the much-discussed Version Vibrant introduction of the "Fan Words" site. If Adam thinks theO can break into the (already fairly glutted) fanfiction scene, then more power to him - and if in the process those of us interested in writing articles get another chance to do, that sounds like a good bonus. On the other hand - how do I put this delicately? - I don't exactly trust the move. As an old article writer, I'm dubious - I don't at all think it's a bad thing, but we should think carefully about how it is that all of this is coming about.
What, exactly, is being said here? Two years ago we were told that Articles was being shut down. Some of the reasons had to do with the staff having to do editorial work, but I'm pretty sure it was just due to the pure, unsentimental fact of miniscule page views. The section was kept up as a gesture of consolation, but of course gets no obvious links and was basically never heard from again (rather like, so far as I can tell, what will soon happen to myOtaku). One had the sense of hearing: "well, it's not as if we don't like you writers at all, but your work just isn't pulling its weight the way that everything else is; it's tough, this world of siterunning, and sacrifices must be made; keep doing whatever it is that you're doing if you wish, but please do it somewhere else."
Now, two years later, theO wants to get into the fanfiction game. This is, from a business perspective, justifiable - fanfiction is hugely popular and draws a lot of traffic. And I think a line of thinking that followed from this was: "well, if we're going to have something in place that will let people post stories, why not use the same mechanism to let people post articles again?" In other words: we article writers seem to be getting our section back because it's not going to cost any extra work. If I'm right about this, then there's no real concern with what we may add to the community (serious, prolonged discussion of anime/manga/etc.) so much as there's just no risk to the venture. This claim may be disputed (I am, in effect, accusing the staff of distain), but I think it's ultimately correct. If it isn't, why has there been no attempt to woo writers back before this? You may say that it's important to have article writers around - but if so, why have all of us been sitting on our hands since '06?
No, the only reason we're being let back in is that given what theO's already doing, there's no major drawbacks to throwing us a bone. We're getting this pittance as an afterthought of the try for fanfic traffic, because it's going to cost nothing extra. And, after running this around in my head for a bit, I find it to be a profoundly cheerless, ugly, venomous thought: that what we are doing as writers is effectively worthless, but that we ought be happy that it is at least tolerated. Our work will not earn much (certainly not as much as your average ten chapter PG-rated Light x L saga), and we will not see a cent of it. All of us know this. Yet nevertheless all of us are going to be submitting things to Fan Words in a few weeks' time, and very likely we will all be pleased as a child on Christmas that someone is hosting our work even if no one really cares about it nor reads it.
I may be accused of being too cynical. We shall see; the tale will be told by how Version Vibrant ends up working on the ground. In any case I have no problem with websites that have their eye on the bottom line, or that are an "extension" of the owner (it's something you get used to). Certainly I don't want to say that Fan Words is a bad thing. But I have known too many prideless writers in my time, too many really talented people so beaten down by an apathetic environment that they are happy to be exploited and undervalued so long as a handful of people will pass their eyes over their work - and I do not exempt myself from this, either. All I wish to do is, so to speak, to pop the bubble of optimism and point out what really seems to be going on. Think about it for a bit - do you truly think that this bonus auxiliary to a fanfiction section is what your writing is worth? And if it's enough for you, then what does that say about your own self-estimation? Comments
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Quick update, since I'm pretty swamped right now. First off, new scorecard.
Amazingly, I'm still watching Rosario Plus Vampire but I've dropped Water: Footprints in the Sand. The former manages to be charming despite its predictability (not to mention its rather lurid fixation on undergarments), while the latter ceased to be interesting pretty much the exact moment that the protagonist got his sight back and it became obvious that he would be keeping it for the rest of the series (as this is pretty much the gimmick that hooked me in the first place). Hatenkou Yuugi, They Are My Noble Masters, and Persona I watched and axed due to boring (justifiably, because I can now remember not a single thing about them - even though my notes state clearly that the TAMNM girls were, in fact, cute). The new Aria I axed too, although this was a far more anguished decision; watching the first episode was a bit like being on a date that you really wish were going well, but isn't (i.e. you and the date just aren't connecting at all, and while there's fair treatment and politeness on both sides it's quite clear to all involved that there will not be a repeat affair).
Now for the shows I've picked up. Zetsubou-sensei would get in solely due to the preceding season, but the first two eps I've seen have actually been better than before. I'm not sure how this is possible, given how good '07's model was. The new Minami-ke also coasts in: although I'm not much for the new, oddly h-animelike art and although the first episode was a bit lame, things have lately improved measurably (plus, first Hosaka sighting!). Shigofumi and Wolf and Spice are in because they're just utterly fantastic on every level (and if you're not watching them yet, then you should be). True Tears is yet another harem series, but one which notably seems to have something running upstairs. The three girls are actually characters rather than walking endzones, and the protagonist has (for the genre) an extraordinary degree of intelligence: the mere ability to take a hint as to when a girl likes him puts him in at least the 95th percentile of such dopes.
Winter '08 begins!
Well, the new season's slowly rolling in and I'm beginning to fill out the new scorecard. There's not nearly as much to worry about this time, and a lot of it's just sequels and remakes.
The first new show I've seen is the new Macross (Frontier). As expected, it's not perfect: there's a sense that they're trying to give us a look at everything they're doing all at once, which makes the first episode fairly topheavy. The battles are a bit bollocks (though still way better than most CG animation in mecha shows), the acting is occasionally suspect, and - worryingly - the series is a direct sequel to the endlessly awful Macross 7. So you'd expect it to be crap, a cynical cash-in on the venerable Macross name, yet it's not. In fact, based on this first episode I'm willing to say that Frontier's got a shot at being the best Macross series since the original (which, granted, says more about the quality of the other sequels than anything else). It's a bit shaky, but everything works. The designs are great, Yoko Kanno's Macross Plus hat still fits after 14 years (which sells the series for me all by itself), and for the first time in decades this is a Macross series where I don't want all the characters dead five minutes after they're introduced. The whole thing is like a love letter to the old fans - right down to using "Do You Remember Love" for the ED. I am genuinely pumped about this one, folks. Satelight better get moving with the new episodes asap.
I'm taking more of a wait-and-see attitude for some other shows. Rosario Plus Vampire is kitschy sci-fi/fantasy harem comedy stuff that we've all seen a billion times since Tenchi Muyo. There's enough panty flashes to give Ikkitousen a run for its money, but aside from that there's not much to recommend it (it's on the bubble, and I'm giving it one more ep to impress me). Water: Footprints in the Sand is a second harem-looking sort of show, but seems far more promising. The gimmick here is that the male lead is blind, which - as you would expect, if you've got more foresight than me - lands him a favored place among the girlies way, way faster than he otherwise would have. If I'd known being blind would get me knee deep in that much affection, I would have poked my own eyes out years ago.
The last show is Ayakashi, for which I'm making a special note because it's got the absolute worst writing I've ever seen in a series. Granted, shounen material is not known for its fine plotting, but I still expect better than tripe like this. The characters are obnoxious and follow no reasoning, and the situations range from boring to absurd (and not the good kind of absurd). The defining moment for me was at the end, where the male lead had to confront the bland boxcutter-wielding heavy from earlier in the episode. Just then the writers realize that they haven't yet demonstrated how scary and mean the heavy is, and their solution is to bring in a redshirt. Seriously, they drag in a random, apparently unnamed tough-looking fellow to get Worf'd so that we the audience will know: gosh, boxcutter guy is pretty dangerous! This single scene perfectly exemplifies just about everything wrong with anime: half-assed results from overworked writers and artists which will sell anyways because the original game/novel/manga/whatever was popular. Come on, people. I don't ask you to be flawless, but you can do better than this... Comments